I used to think I was so classy. OK, I ply a small-time circuit. Being a wine expert in Kentucky is no great shakes. We’ve got some knowledgeable people here with great cellars, but they tend not to talk a lot about their affinity, finding it vaguely shameful. I, on the other hand, am a wine blogger. I know no shame.
Last Sunday Westport Whiskey & Wine hosted another one of their “bring one from your cellar” tastings. The events are an opportunity to share and show off, quarterly Open That Bottle nights in a room full of people who love wine and know a lot about it. Last time around I took a Chateauneuf, a former Wine Spectator Wine of the Year. Tasting it blind with other great wines, I didn’t like it all that well. I figured that was an anomaly, one of those crazy things. But, it turns out, it was an omen, a prelude to last Sunday’s tasting and the psychological toll it would take on me.
Sunday I learned I am not classy in the least. All my affectation and posturing is nothing but…well, affectation and posturing. My taste in wine is about as refined as an affinity for chrome and smoked glass furniture.
These three scores (20-point Davis scale) are all you need to know about my palate:
2008 Sinatra Family Estates Cabernet Sauvignon — 18
2000 Chateau Mouton Rothschild — 14
1990 Chateau Latour — 15
I am, I now know, a vulgarian. After years of imagining myself an aficionado of subtlety, after filling my basement with respectable wine aging to whispy unity, I discover that my taste — if I ever had any — is not what I thought. My craving for giant Chilean Cabs and cartoonish Zins is not a delightful eccentricity. It is, in fact, the core of my being. I am a lover of big, shameless wines.
I’d pretty much given up on ever tasting a premier cru. I can’t afford them, myself, and I don’t hang around with the kind of people who have any extra lying around. In my imagination they are breathtaking wines — bold and slashing as Errol Flynn wielding a sword. Denied the actual experience, I have made-do with respectable substitutes, including a couple of cru classé I buy most vintages.
Then Sunday came around — a blind tasting mostly of Cabernet-based wines. I contributed a 2002 Leoville-Barton, a problematic vintage, sure, but aging nicely. Ask me and I’d call Leoville-Barton one of my favorites, droning on about its dense core of dark fruit and waxing poetic about the transcendent power of certain, very special wines. Put it in a blind tasting, on the other hand, and I’ll score it a 14. That’s lower than I scored the 2004 Orin Swift Mercury Head, the 2004 Caymus Special Select, the 2003 Robert Mondavi Reserve, and the 2005 Scarecrow.
Sleek, old-world subtlety and balance are not, apparently, what I like. In fact, after a period of introspection, I have admitted to myself that my declared preference for Old World sleekness might be more shibboleth than reality, a declaration of my seriousness more akin to product differentiation than actual preference.
Screw it. Bring on the $9 Albarino, and screw you, too, if you disapprove of my drinking it over ice.